Okay, so I’m not that bad…no really! I didn’t actually think it would be easier to self-publish. Because in fact I know it’s very, very hard. A few years ago I worked for Stag Editors in New York as a proof-reader and editor, and believe it or not, some of our clients were indie authors. So I not only got to see the plethora of talent available in indie books, but also saw a lot of the mistakes.
When I first wrote Conner, I was only eighteen. It was a great achievement for me, and there are plenty of young authors who are very good, but mine was….well, just good. Lots of people loved it, said nice things about it, but…it was immature. I hadn’t wanted to write an YA novel. I had wanted to write a novel for adults. So when I got comments back such as ‘my young daughter would love to read this’, I knew I had done something wrong.
For some reason, I couldn’t look at it objectively at the time. It took me two years to write it, and it was my first ‘proper’ novel. I had it self-published for friends and family, but never sold more than a few copies. So I left it, and went off to write the sequel, Erin. Then I left that one because I felt as though I wasn’t sure what to write after Chapter 12. And then I went off to write some short stories, and to start my next novel.
Then back in April, I came back to it. I had almost given up on the idea of Conner ever being something that would be published, or indeed ever seen. Nothing more than a sad story to tell my grand-children round the fire when I’m old. “Well, children, I once tried to do something, and got lazy….”
I didn’t want that though! So I rolled up my sleeves, sat down at my laptop, and began to write again. I absolutely pulled Conner apart. I considered what would set it apart from a YA novel-it isn’t as if I don’t read, I do, and have a collection of around 3000 books scattered around the cottage, much to my boyfriend’s amusement. Whole chunks of Conner were taken away, others were changed, and brand spanking new parts were put in. Then I checked it again, and again, and again.
And then I still didn’t go for it. Because first I wanted Erin finished, so that they would match up. So now I had to finish Erin. It had sat on my hard-drive for nearly two years untouched, and now I wrote over 63,000 words in a week. Why? Not because I had found my ‘muse’, or because my life suddenly cleared up and got easier (although there was a much loved family member who died the year before, so obviously I couldn’t write then). It was because I had Grown Up. Because I had realised that if I ever wanted anyone to read my book, I was damn well going to have to think about the advice I had been given, and ACT on it. This was the most important lesson I’ve learned, that had finally sunk in. Instead of ignoring criticism, sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “lalalala!”, you have to pay attention to it.
I made the cover for Conner, and I didn’t like it, so I spent two days trying out covers, considering what it would look like, before I finally settled on the delicious cover that it is now. After all this, I had decided I would self-publish. Well, you probably guessed that, seeing as I’m waffling on about covers. But why on earth go for the hard option? And it is the hard option; a lot of people believe it’s the lazier option. My answer to that is that I now work about 70+ hours a week.
I can handle criticism-now at least. I couldn’t for the longest time, but now I can let it roll over me like air, sifting out the constructive parts. So it certainly wasn’t that I was worried about rejection. In fact, I reckon all of the best authors in the world have had rejection. But after the long haul I had with Conner and Erin, something about them felt different from any other book I would write. I needed to keep them as they were, because I had stripped them time and again with my own editing. And having done it for a job, I thought (I hope! ) I knew what I was doing.
Plus I loved the creative control, and I’ve always been a little bit of a control freak-my favourite game when I was younger was ‘The Sims’, and yes, I did try the thing where you kill them off in the pool. Don’t ask if you’ve never heard of this, I promise it isn’t as ominous as it sounds…lol!
So I self-published this time because there was almost something sacred to me about Conner and Erin. Something that had gone ten rounds with a critic and leapt up again screaming, ‘Edit me, will ya’?” So I kept it as it is, so that it will be remembered as it is. And because I love marketing my book now; I thrive on it, in fact.
In : Guest Posts
Tags: miranda stork conner authors self publish writing books novels ya
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